Kiryu brocade Kiryu ori
Classic textile with 1300 years of history woven by true love
People under a spell of seven prominent weaving techniques
Kiryu Ori refers to woven cloth produced in Kiryu City of Gunma Prefecture. The well-endowed environment with climate and terrains has made Kiryu City prosperous in the sericultural industry for years. Describing local history and culture, the Jomo Karuta, Japanese playing card popular in Gunma Prefecture, includes “Ki” card depicting Kiryu as one of the nation’s famous fabric production areas.
Kiryu Ori is characterized by seven weaving techniques: Omeshi Ori, Yokonishiki Ori, Tatenishiki Ori, Futsu Ori, Ukitate Ori, Tatekasurimon Ori, and Mojiri Ori. Boasting soft and satin texture, Kiryu Ori fabrics are widely used, from luxury Japanese Kimono to decorative accessories. With fame as Fashion Town, Kiryu City has been pursuing the invigoration of the local textile industry.
There is an old saying “Nishijin in the west, Kiryu in the east” that denotes Kiryu Ori fabrics with over 1000-year history. The Kiryu region has been long known for thriving textile business, which is proven in the record that a woven textile called Ki Ashiginu was presented to the Imperial Court in the Nara Period (in 714). Legend has it that a local man who was sent from Yamada in Ueno Kuni (current Gunma) to serve as an official at the Imperial Court fell in love with Princess Shirataki. The man’s wish was granted by the Imperial Court that he married the princess and lived together in his hometown, Kiryu City, where the princess conversant with sericulture and weaving introduced them to the locals. The name of Kiryu Ori rose to prominence across Japan on a par with Nishijin Ori, and Kiryu fabrics were tribute and used in the belongings of historical warlords such as Nitta Yoshisada and Ashikaga Takauji.
Later in the Edo Period, Kiryu Ori began gaining momentum as an industry. The founding of Nihon Orimono Corporation in 1887 triggered successful steady industrialization, allowing Kiryu Ori to establish a dominant place in Japan’s weaving industry. In 1977, Kiryu Ori was recognized as a traditional craft.
General Production Process
- 1. Thread making This process is of preparing to weave raw silk threads. Types of silk threads vary with purpose, for warps and wefts.
- 2. Refinement, Dyeing and Sizing Refinement requires raw silk to be boiled in dedicated hot water for an hour to remove impurities, and refined silk threads are dyed in certain colors. With double the amount of weft threads, a sizing liquid is rubbed in with hands to keep the threads twisted in the next process.
- 3. Nenshi (twisting) Nenshi is a process of twisting extremely fine silk threads to increase their strength. A traditional machine is used to give a thread a firmer twist, with 2000 twists per meter. Twisted silk threads undergo reeling and twisting for warping and spooling.
- 4. Seikei (warping) and Kudamaki (spooling) Seikei is formatting the length of threads to weave a bolt of cloth, and Kudamaki is spooling the weft threads around the wooden tube that works as a bobbin. Reeled silk threads are wound onto the wooden tube manually, mechanically or automatically. Processes 1 through 4 are preparatory to further processes.
- 5. Design and Mongiri (card punching) Designing kimono is followed by spooling silk threads on the wooden tube. A design pattern is traced on special plotting paper called Ishoshi, and then Mongiri (holes are punched in proper places) is called out according to the design pattern. Nowadays, advanced technologies are leveraged in this process; a design created on a computer is saved as image data and sent to a loom directly for weaving. Computerization has expanded design options, developing well-established rich expressions of Kiryu Ori fabrics to a higher level.
- 6. Preparation of Jacquard loom A Jacquard loom is a weaving machine that Frenchman Joseph Marie Jacquard invented in 1806. Kiryu Ori employed Jacquard Pianola loom that was imported by Saba Kiroku in 1886. Jacquard looms are designed to send design data to a heddle, which raises and lowers warp threads, from Ishoshi paper or computer and to create the pattern by controlling a sequence of operations through the threading to warp threads.